‘I heard the recordings’ – MP Dean Jonas on Asot-Virdee scandal

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Dean Jonas, Member of Parliament (MP) for St. George has said that he has listened to recordings of conversations at the heart of the Asot Michael-Peter Virdee bribery scandal – recordings that no government official has ever publicly acknowledged hearing.

“We did get recordings where he was making certain requests of Mr. Virdee,” Jonas said on Sunday, while speaking on OBSERVER Radio’s Big Issues programme in the afternoon.

Michael, the disgraced former minister of investment, resigned from that Cabinet post in May 2018 after the scandal was made public.

The scandal surrounds the allegation by Peter Virdee, a British millionaire, that in or before 2016, Asot Michael had demanded bribes of $2 million dollars and a luxury car for his mother from Virdee.

The bribes were allegedly demanded in exchange for Michael’s facilitation of Virdee’s investment project or projects in Antigua and Barbuda. The scandal became public when transcripts of Peter Virdee’s taped conversations were made public in a UK court document in May 2018.

However, the existence and circulation amongst persons in Antigua and Barbuda of the actual audio recordings of the conversations – some of which reportedly involved Michael – have never been publicly acknowledged by any government official or law enforcement body.

Jonas said the recordings “were being thrown around on WhatsApp”. However, when asked whether he had them in his possession, the MP said he did not know if he still did.

Then Jonas said they might be gotten “from the police commissioner”, but when questioned further over whether he could confirm that the Commissioner of Police possessed such recordings, Jonas replied, “I don’t know. I don’t know who has them. But I believe so.”

“I’m just speculating here. I have heard recordings and I thought that maybe everybody did. Because usually when these things get out on WhatsApp, they’re all over the place,” the MP said.

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